Building A Company Culture To Fit The Knowledge-Based Economy

Michael D. Moberly    April 16, 2010

What is a company culture?  Basically, a company culture is a shared system of values (within a company) that defines what is important.  Those values become blended with other norms and beliefs that convey (to employees) what the accepted (appropriate) attitudes and behaviors are. 

Schein, among others, suggests a company culture will emerge as management teams, boards, and employees collectively recognize the beneficial outcomces that accrue as each group successfully solves problems by applying those shared norms, values, and beliefs.  

What is a knowledged-based economy?    The phrase ‘knowledge-based economy’ was popularized, if not invented by Peter Drucker as the title of Chapter 12 in his book The Age of DiscontinuityA knowledge-based economy refers to the use of various knowledge technologies such as knowledge engineering and/or knowledge management to produce economic benefits for a company.  In a knowledge-based economy, knowledge essentially becomes a tool, not necessarily a product.

The center piece of the knowledge-based economy in my judgment, are the intangible assets companies produce.    Simply stated, developing a company culture to fit and reflect the knowledge-based economy means acquiring a level of familiarity with and an attitude toward intangible assets that permits management teams, boards, and employees to be able to identify, build, protect, and effectively utilize intangibles to for example, enhance a company’s value and competitive advantages, generate revenue, and/or lay a foundation for future growth.

Why is an intangible asset company culture necessary in a knowledge-based economy? – First of all, it’s an economic fact that 65+% of most companies value, sources of revenue, future wealth creation and sustainability lie in – are directly linked to intangible assets.  Unfortunately, but, all too frequently, the existance and/or contributory value of intangible assets simply does not appear on business radar screens, because, in large part, those screens still remain fixated on tangible-physical assets.  Also, in many instances, intangibles remain somewhat of a mystery to management teams and boards particularly in terms of how to extract value or competitive advantages from assets that are non-physical and are seldom, if ever, reported on company balance sheets.  Trust me, the ‘coin of the realm’ for this knowledge-based economy is intangible assets!

The desired outcome is to build an enduring, yet flexible, company culture that collectively understands its internal value creation processes, i.e., how ideas and innovation (intangible assets) evolve and can be fostered to the point they deliver returns.  In the context of intangible assets, those outcomes may take the form of newly created efficiencies within the company, stronger competitive advantages and customer relationships, new knowledge, and/or greater reputational value.

(Some definitions contained in this post relating to knowledge-based economy were adapted by Mr. Moberly from Wikipedia.)

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